Master Foulkes

Our Resident expert, Max Foulkes, looks back on the smoking habits of the locked-down and reveals what trends emerged.

With lockdown came an abundance of time.  Ensuring pockets of freedom were filled with certain enjoyment was no longer of the utmost importance. Instead of choosing a cigar based on what has previously been pleasurable, one could afford to experiment and smoke something yet to be experienced.

Davidoff of London was very much still operating during lockdown through its newly revamped website and so I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the gravitation towards formerly-unpopular Cuban brands as well as cigars from the ‘New World’. There has been a resurgence in the popularity of the Davidoff Signature No.2, a Laguito No.2 size cigar produced in Cuba up until 1989, last released in 1991 and now made in the Dominican Republic. Always clad in a wrapper of a Claro pigmentation, and always rolled to perfection. Never have I experienced an issue with the draw and the flavour remains the same between examples, not always a given with its Cuban counterparts. A smooth, sweet blend ideal for the morning, a part of the day made available for smoking during lockdown.

With an excess of newly acquired dogs came a demand for colloquially named ‘Dog Walking Cigars’. These tend to be smokes of a stout profile as I know of no one that leaves the house with the intention of exercising these creatures for more than thirty minutes at a time. Doing so might run the risk of exercising oneself. The Hoyo de Monterrey du Deputé, San Cristobal el Principe, Rafael Gonzales Perla and Trinidad Reyes have proven themselves in this respect.  The Partagas Short, a firm full-bodied favourite of mine, seems to the be the evening canine perambulating cigar of choice.

Lighter bodied smokes seemed to have regained popularity due to to time being more readily available during the day. I know the Quai D’Orsay 54 is favourite of many. Along with the Sancho Panza Molinos and H.Upmann Half Corona, I consider it the original flavour free cigar.  Each to their own. The San Cristobal La Punta, however, is a beautifully rich light to medium bodied Campana which, dare I say, is being enjoyed just as much as the classic Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2. The Upmanns are becoming exceedingly popular, especially the Magnum 54. Far from my favourite from the portfolio but a good cigar nonetheless. The wider gauge Trinidad’s are also being enjoyed by many but struggle the replicate the sublime flavour of those of a slimmer gauge from the brand , namely the Fundadores, Coloniales and Reyes.

On multiple occasions during lockdown I found myself in a post prandial torpor where a Vegas Robaina Familiares went down a treat. If a nap was required, a Bolivar Belicosos Finos would prepare me. Cohiba Siglo Is and IIIs were a staple alongside the Punch Punch and Short de Punch. Lockdown may have emptied my humidor but filled my notebook with some interesting and unusual tasting notes.